A retired Brooklyn judge says “reverse racism” motivated him to convict an innocent white man of murder. He now says that Donald Kagan shot Wavell Wint, a black man, in self defense.
Frank Barbaro decided the entire case instead of a jury. He is a former civil rights activist and says his desire to fight “racism” caused him to convict an innocent man. He now says that Kagan was being mugged by Wint and the shooting was justifiable self-defense.
Retired Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Frank Barbaro wants a white man he convicted in 1999 of killing a black man to be freed — claiming Wednesday he based the verdict on his own reverse racism. The 86-year-old former jurist convicted Donald Kagan, now 39, of fatally shooting Wavell Wint, 22, during a struggle over Kagan’s chain outside an East New York movie theater in 1998.But Barbaro told a court that, because of his viewpoint as a civil-rights activist, he didn’t consider a justification defense by Kagan in the nonjury trial.“Mr. Kagan had no intent to kill that man . . . I believe now that I was seeing this young white fellow as a bigot, as someone who assassinated an African-American,” Barbaro, a former longshoreman who also served 23 years in the state Assembly, told Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice ShawnDya Simpson.Barbaro said he contacted Kagan’s attorneys after some deep soul-searching led him to realize he had denied Kagan a fair trial.“I never took it out of my mind. I started reading in the papers that lots of defendants were sent to death or life in prison but were subsequently exonerated. Reading those stories began to affect me,” Barbaro said.“I was prejudiced during the trial. I realized I made a terrible mistake and there was a man in jail because of my mistake.”Barbaro contacted defense attorney Jeff Adler, who filed a motion in 2011 to overturn Kagan’s conviction.